Reopening the Pubs, A Photographers Elation
Earlier this year, as the smell of banana bread was starting to fade and just as Grandma had finally figured out how to take herself off mute, the beacons of freedom were metaphorically lit and the country shared a collective sigh of relief – the pubs are reopening!
Having spent much of the summer serving their customers through an amazing home delivery service (The Crafty Duck), Michelle and Baz were preparing the bar to re-open for a thirsty and eager public. I was asked if I could come and capture some images for their new website, social media channels and to generally help promote the ‘return’ of the business.
I’ve known Michelle and Baz for a number of years now and so naturally jumped at the chance to work with them, not least because it meant leaving the house and talking to people in real life – how 2020.
I should probably confess that I’m not a beer or ale aficionado – I spent most of my youth secretly ordering archers and lemonade before being encouraged (bullied) to drink Fosters and Carling at University.
Capturing the Charm
My tastes have matured a little since then but I’m still the guy who has to build up the courage to ask the bar staff what they’d recommend before opting for Veltins…again. Thankfully, this wasn’t a dealbreaker for the photography.
I was already familiar with the Fox, having spent many a night there during simpler times, so I had a pretty good idea of how to approach the shoot and capture the warmth and rustic charm that has proven so welcoming to regulars and newbies alike.
One thing that stood out to me with the Fox is the feeling that it has somehow always been a part of Brighouse. The best ‘locals’ carry a sense of history with them, as though if you listened hard enough, you could pick up the faintest echo of those who have laughed, cried and shared (many) drinks there over the years. With the Fox, it’s hard to believe it was a Polish supermarket less than 18 months ago.
Longing for the Return
I could wax on about the things that I was drawn to as a photographer; the way the shadows shift as day fades to night, the reflection of the warm tungsten lights on the pumps or the fox motifs hidden throughout the bar, but the real magic of the Fox is its people.
Walking through the front door you could be mistaken in thinking you’ve just walked into your own home. Baz, Michelle, Georgia and the team have created something special and you can tell this is so much more than a job for them – you feel like you belong and you’ll always be welcome.
Here’s to counting down the days until we’re allowed out again and return to our favourite second home. Like a child counting down the days to christmas, we don’t have to dream much longer that the pubs are reopening.
In the meantime, I’m going to get my delivery order in…Veltins, naturally.
Writing and Photography both by the supremely talented Matt Radcliffe – https://www.mattradcliffephoto.co.uk/